The father of a 42-year-old French man who is having his life supporting treatment withdrawn has called the court action “murder in disguise.”
Last Tuesday, medics started removing life-sustaining equipment from Vincent Lambert after a final ruling by France’s highest appeals court. The protracted legal battle between Vincent’s parents and the French and European court system has now ended.
On Sunday, Pierre and Vivianne watched helplessly as doctors began to remove their son’s water and feeding tubes at Sebastopol Hospital in the northern city of Reims. Vincent can sleep and wake up, responds to certain voices, and can swallow and breath on his own, according to Reuters.
The Catholic parents have called the court’s decision “madness,” and insist that Vincent is not brain-dead but merely “handicapped.” They wish to move him to a specialist facility.
“It’s murder in disguise, it’s euthanasia,” 90-year-old Pierre told reporters, according to the Guardian.
Vincent’s doctor has urged the parents to ensure that their “support is as peaceful, intimate and personal as possible.”
Lambert was a former psychiatric nurse who has been in a vegetative state for over a decade after suffering massive brain trauma in a car accident.
In early May, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ordered both the French courts, and the agreeing European Court on Human Rights, to reverse their decision on Lambert’s withdrawal of treatment, effectively commanding that doctors feed and hydrate Vincent while the committee carried out its own investigation into the case.
Now, France’s highest legal body, the Cour de Cassation, has overruled that appeal. Vincent’s fight is seemingly over.
“I beg you, help us,” Viviane Lambert told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in her final appeal, as reported by the South China Morning Post. “Without your intervention, my son, Vincent Lambert, will be euthanised because of his mental handicap.”
“Vincent is not a vegetable,” she added. “I beg you to intervene with France and remind it of its obligation to not let my son die.”
Vincent’s wife, Rachel, disagrees with her in-laws. He would “never have wanted to be kept in this state,” she said, according to the BBC.
In May, Pope Francis made an indirect reference to the case by tweeting that it was necessary to “always safeguard life, God’s gift, from its beginning until its natural end.”
“Horrific,” pro-life advocate Lila Rose commented on the case. “Food, water are basic necessities. Starving or dehydrating a patient to death is immoral & barbaric.”
“There are 1700 people in France in a similar condition to #VincentLambert whose fate looks to be similarly in the balance,” added journalist Caroline Farrow. “We should not kill people because they are disabled.”
She noted that Vincent “is not sick, dying or at the end of his life,” but “is being starved and dehydrated to death because he is severely disabled.”
As is to be expected, many continue to insist that Vincent’s days should come to a swift close — making their opinions known in the compassion-vacuum that is social media. Arguably, this personifies the absolute plague of our over-opinionated culture — where anonymous individuals can sit behind a computer and say “we all know this is for the best,” without once attempting to put themselves in the shoes of these heartbroken parents.
“Dear friends who have supported us so much throughout these 6 years,
this time, it’s over,” Vincent’s parents said in a statement issued to a Facebook support group. “Vincent’s death is now inevitable.”
The parents thanked supporters for their “friendship, love, support and prayers for all these years.”
“There is nothing more to do if not pray and accompany our dear Vincent, in dignity and contemplation,” they concluded.
Over 130,000 people have signed a CitizenGo petition urging French President Emmanuel Macron to intervene in the situation. “You are the only person who can prevent the murder of Vincent Lambert,” the petition reads.
Despite the vast public outcry, Macron has refused to act, insisting it is a matter for the doctors and courts.
A prayer vigil is due to be held for Vincent in Paris on Wednesday.
Do pray for the family at this incredibly difficult time.